Hats, gloves, and scarves!

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Young deer by the picnic shelter

 

Hello trail walkers! In my last post, I told you that the time has come to open the closet and sort out my hats, gloves, and hand warmers if I intend to continue trail walking, now that early Autumn has morphed into chilly winter weather.  Last week we experienced our first snowfall, a real one that required boots, and stayed on the ground for three days. Most of the trees have lost their leaves, and even the wildlife is feeling the pinch of winter. Although our park rangers frown on walkers doling out treats, a man I passed on the trail today told me the chickadees and titmice were following him down the trail, complaining loudly because he hadn’t brought enough seeds to share, and his pockets were empty.

A few of the pictures in this post are from Chagrin River Park, although most of them were taken in our yard.

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I photographed these leaves again this week because I can’t resist the color.
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It was easy to spot this cardinal when it landed in a tree next to the trail.

The birds in our neighborhood were happy that I had replenished the food supply in their back yard buffet. (Click on any picture below  to see a larger version)

It was chilly on the trail today;
It’s time to order some handwarmers!

Skip aka Trailwalker

Special backyard visitors…

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A pair of bluebirds made my heart happy today! I haven’t seen a sign of either one in months,  and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him sitting on top of the nesting box this morning.

And then she joined him and together they checked out the neighborhood.

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She peered into the nest, and I wondered if she would approve of what she saw inside.

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Disappearing inside to take a better look around, she inspected the box while he perched on top to survey the neighborhood, maybe keeping an eye out for the marauding neighborhood cat.

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She climbed inside the nest, leaving him standing watch on the rooftop.

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We put up this new bluebird box six months ago, hoping a pair of bluebirds would move in and raise their young where we could enjoy their family shenanigans. Unfortunately, shortly after the new box was installed some aggressive house sparrows moved in and chased the bluebirds away.

But today the bluebirds returned for another look at the box. After Mrs. B. completed her inspection, they both flew away, so I have no idea what her decision was. For now, I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed, hoping they will return. Meanwhile, as I said, it made my heart happy to see them in our backyard today.

That’s all the neighborhood news for now.
See you in a few days.
Trail Walker (aka Skip)

An abrupt change

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The blue jay landed, but didn’t hang around for long, just long enough for me to get one good shot. Then he took off, and was replaced by a woodpecker.

 


…who posed long enough for us to see the red feathered “cap” on top of his head. Apparently he is proud of the bright red feathers, and just wants us to know he’s the king of the backyard birds…at least for a moment or two.

That’s it for today’s backyard birding. We’ve been blessed with a long stretch of sunny weather and crisp air, but the weather made an abrupt change overnight from sunshiny days and a lovely full moon in the evening, to cool drizzly weather.  Although the change was sudden (and not altogether welcome), I’m holding out hope for more of October’s bright blue weather.

‘Bye for now!
~Trail Walker

PS I almost forgot to mention that I posted some pictures from Sunday’s trail walk on my website. You can see them here. The Autumn colors were great. After the walk, we all went out for pizza. A nice ending to the weekend.

Happy hummers

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Unlike many backyard birders, I don’t often see multiple hummingbirds when I look out the kitchen window. This month has been different, and today was a really lucky day.

Enjoy the happy hummers and a couple of misfits at the end of today’s post.

And now for today’s surprises…

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That’s it for today’s backyard birding post.
See you soon!

~Trail Walker

An abundance of pileated woodpeckers

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For the past month, these Woody Woodpecker look-alikes have been regularly visiting the trees in our backyard. They’re not nesting here, but every day, morning, noon, and night, they fly in, help themselves to the woodpecker blocks and suet cakes, and provide us with entertainment. Just look at this pair. I’m no woodpecker expert, but I am guessing, from their behavior, that they are juvenile woodpeckers.

I’m not sure if they are playing, attacking each other, or maybe engaging in some kind of romantic ritual. Hopefully someone can explain it so we will all know.

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When I watch them cavort from tree to tree, I’m reminded of my days as a middle-school teacher. There’s never a dull moment!

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Enjoy their antics as you watch this slide show. Some of their expressions are hilarious…

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That’s it for today’s backyard birding post. I hope you enjoyed your visit.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

Rainy days

Rain, rain, go away
Come again some other day.
Little Johnny wants to play.

Running through my head repeatedly, that rhyme, remembered from my childhood, couldn’t be more true to the way I feel about April…and now May! Little Johnny and Little Sally would like the rain to stop and the temperature to warm up so they can put on their shorts and sandals and go out to play. And Little Carolyn would like to get outside to take trail walks and play with her camera.

We have had so much rain recently that the ducks and geese have turned our swampy back yard into their personal swimming pool. Mowing the rapidly growing grass has been almost impossible, but the geese and ducks are loving it! Take a look!

First a pair of geese landed. Together they wandered through the wet grass.


And if it’s possible, the mallards are even happier than the geese. They wander through the grass, swim in the large puddles, and don’t mind the mud at all. I didn’t get any pictures of the actual swimming yet, but trust me, it really happens, and they love it. Every year this pair of mallards returns to our neighborhood, and we smile to see them. It’s almost as if they are coming back to their favorite vacation resort: plenty of water for swimming, green grass galore, and no lack of tasty food. We provide everything a duck would love. Is it any wonder they return year after year?

That’s it for this blog post.
Thanks for stopping by to catch up on the backyard news!
Trail Walker

Three of a kind

I’m always surprised when the pileated woodpecker appears at the backyard feeder. His visits haven’t been very regular since last fall when we had to cut down the tall tree he liked to land on when he flew in. After landing on the tall oak tree, he and his mate would often fly across our backyard and stop on the fruit trees in our neighbor’s yard, close enough for a really good photo opp. Unfortunately, our neighbors had to cut down both their apple and cherry trees a few years ago, which is probably why we see the pileated pair less often.  Some people refer to the pileated as the Woody Woodpecker bird because he looks just like the cartoon bird. He likes suet, as he is demonstrating here. He also likes the large (woodpecker-sized) seed blocks, and sometimes he will fly in and land on top of the hopper-feeder.

The pileated, a very large insect-eating bird, is native to North America and is described as “a mostly sedentary inhabitant of deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific coast.” Some of my blog readers may have seen them in their backyards. (If you have, please let us know in the comment section). The bird in today’s picture is a male, easily identified by the red mustache on his face.

That’s it for today’s post.
Hope to see you soon.
Trail Walker

A glance out the kitchen window

Cleaning up the kitchen after lunch, my eye was arrested by the sight of a lonely bluebird huddled on top of the nesting box in falling snow.2019_03_05__Backyard birding_0025
The temperature was 18 degrees, and I could only imagine that, despite his fluffed out feathers,  the little fellow was feeling a bit cold. Grabbing my camera, I snapped his picture, then soon discovered he wasn’t the only wind-blown bird in the backyard. At least one other bluebird, a downy woodpecker, and a robin were nearby. (Click to enlarge pictures.)

 

I’m looking forward to spring when sunshine and warm breezes will waft away the cold and snow. I have a feeling my feathered friends are just as eager for a change in the weather. How about you?

Thanks for visiting today. See you soon.
Trail Walker

 

Monday musings

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My calendar insists that today is March 4th. In sixteen short days, we will observe the spring equinox, the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere; in other words, the first official day of spring! Here in Ohio, we will “spring forward” next weekend, turning our clocks an hour ahead for the beginning of DST or daylight saving time. Not that it really saves any time, and sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t prefer leaving my clock on standard time all year round. Nevertheless, I will conform and save myself from the confusion of never arriving anywhere at the “right time.”

So there you have it; spring is almost upon us, but, oh, how I wish it felt (and looked) more like spring! That won’t happen here on the south shore of Lake Erie until sometime in April, if we’re lucky. But here’s some good news. The birds have begun their spring migration. And I saw undeniable proof this week: a redwinged blackbird appeared in my backyard. No, I didn’t capture his (or her) picture, but I saw it. Truly I did, and that made me smile. Maybe if I carve out time this week for a trail walk in the arboretum, I will discover some tiny snowdrops, another sure harbinger of spring. Meanwhile, a bevy of birds were active in my backyard today, and they were willing to pose for some photo opps. Here are a few that I captured through my kitchen window: First, the blue jays:

Here’s another junco, like the one at the top of the post. They don’t linger once spring arrives, so they will soon be on their way to their summer home. For that reason, they are sometimes called snowbirds.
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A cardinal and an American robin also made a visit. All of these birds, even the robin, live year round in our neighborhood. I’m not sure how  robins got the reputation for being one of the first signs of spring because they don’t deserve it. We see them all year round, although it is true that we see more in warmer weather. (Although I’ve never actually counted, so that could be inaccurate.)

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My favorite little birds have been hanging around recently. Despite their reputation as summer birds, they also appear in the winter. I was shocked the first time I saw a bluebird in the middle of winter. But here they are. (Click to enlarge).

The two on the right are males. I’m not positive about the one on the left with the more subdued color, but I think it is a male too. I do know they enjoy perching on top of the “rabbit” that watches over the garden.
And, as always, the “not-a-birds” have been busy scampering around the yard and up and down the trees, “stealing” food from the feeders. They can’t fly, but their agility is amazing as they climb the pole to get to the hopper feeder.

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That’s it for today’s bird count. You can be sure I will keep my eye out for that redwinged blackbird. Maybe I will hear him before I see him. That’s often the way it is with the redwings. Every spring, their loud, distinctive call announces their arrival. Come back soon to see what I find in the backyard or along the trail.

Thanks for stopping by today. I always enjoy your visits!
Trail Walker

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